Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Road Trip #1 - Day 1 - From the West Virginia Base Camp to North Carolina

It's Monday and the plan was to be on the road by 9 AM heading to northern Virginia to meet up with my Air Force buddy, Dave, at his home in Falls Church, Virginia. Well, the best laid plans of mice and men and all that kind of stuff, I got on the road by 9:30. The temperature was about 20 degrees (F) and there was a very light wisp of snow on the ground. Fortunately, it was somewhat sunny and that was enough to clear the roads and eliminate most icy conditions. I wasn't so much concerned about ice once I reached Virginia, but the windy, mountainous roads of West Virginia can be treacherous.

First stop on the south side of Keyser, West Virginia, was the Sheetz convenience store to purchase a large cup of something warm for my tummy. As I was paying for my beverage, the lady clerk asked me if I had a Sheetz "My Card." I said, "Nope, but tell me why I should have one and then tell me how I can get one." So, she told me my nice warm cup of goodness would cost me $1.33 without a My Card and only $1.06 with a My Card. Additionally, I would receive three cents per gallon off my gasoline purchases at their gas pumps and discounts on fountain drinks (which I don't partake in) and their sub sandwiches and other made to order foods. She went on to tell me all I needed to do was let her have my drivers license and she would set me up with my very own My Card.

And, so I did. When she saw my South Dakota drivers license, an entirely new conversation began and the other patrons were all listening as I explained about why I maintain a South Dakota address and about my nomadic, living free lifestyle. In short order I had my warm beverage that I paid only $1.06 for, my new My Card and had spread the message about living free to a few more people. Nice start to the day.

The trip was uneventful through the West Virginia mountains. The trip from Keyser to Virginia takes me through a number of small villages and unincorporated towns as well as the larger towns of Romney, Augusta and Capon Bridge (pictured here as I was approaching the bridge).

When I reached Winchester, Virginia, my hometown for some 27 years until 2010 when I changed my address to South Dakota, I stopped at my bank and took care of a transaction. Then I ran by my CPA's office to check on the progress on a ridiculous and, in my opinion, oppressive issue with the Infernal Revenue Service. John and I are the same age and he's been my accountant for about 25 years, so we discussed when he was planning to hang it up and retire. It looks like I may have to look for a new accountant in about three years.

So, with two pieces of business behind me, but taking longer than I had planned, I decided to skip my planned route through Front Royal, Virginia. I go to Front Royal to pick up some wayward mail at my former business partner's place. Also, I can fill the gas tank on My McVansion at the lowest price gas stations (usually a dime or more lower per gallon) in the region. Instead I headed east on Rt. 50 toward Washington, DC, stopped at another Sheetz and used my My Card at the gas pump to save a few coins, grabbed a $1.05 (including sales tax) value menu hamburger at the Golden Arches place (it was also the lowest calorie item on the menu and fit in my current eating regimen) and continued east to meet up with Dave in Falls Church.

I arrived at Dave's at about 2:05 PM (planned arrival and departure time was 2:00 PM). I made a very brief rest stop at Dave's, we transferred my stuff to his minivan and we were gone at 2:16 PM on our way south with the intention of driving as far as we felt like going and then finding a place to pull in for the evening. Of course, there was a dinner stop planned in there at some point in time.

As I usually do when I'm traveling, I have my camera at the ready. So, I was shooting some photos of scenes of some particular significance to me. Unfortunately, on day #1 of this trip I didn't capture very many usable images. It's always a challenge to capture great photos when you're also driving the vehicle and it doesn't make it any easier when the vehicle you're driving isn't your own. There's a certain lack of familiarity with the vehicle that makes it that much harder to find those split seconds it takes to capture some usable images.

As Dave and I traveled through Virginia to North Carolina we passed through more scenic and historic small towns and points of interest. This particular photo is approaching the small town of Port Royal, Virginia. As far as I know there is not much more than the intersection in this photo. Port Royal is at the junction of Rt. 301, an old, Blue Highway north and south route and Rt. 17, interestingly enough, another old, Blue Highway north and south route. Rt. 301 goes to Richmond and on to Florida. Rt. 17 goes down to the Norfolk/Virginia Beach area and then down into the Carolinas close to the coast.

Other than some traffic and congested roads leaving northern Virginia (typical) and again in the Newport News area, the trip was uneventful, relaxing and provided time for some catching up with each other's lives and some good old philosophizing.

We decided that we'd look for a good Chinese buffet for dinner because we're both watching our weight (read that as losing some ugly extra poundage) and know how to eat well without packing on pounds at a Chinese buffet. We drove and drove and drove for well over an hour through continuous shopping centers and business areas in the Newport News and Hampton, Virginia area searching for a Chinese buffet. Nothing! It seemed like this region (full of military installations) had never heard of such a thing. So, now, getting extremely hungry, we decided to settle for a Ruby Tuesday salad bar. We pulled into the Ruby Tuesday parking lot and directly behind it was a huge Chinese buffet restaurant. Hooray! Success!

After a pleasant dinner we resumed our southward direction. I programmed my smart phone GPS for Elizabeth City, North Carolina as our intended destination for the first day of travel. We arrived in Elizabeth City at about 9:15 PM, checked rates at a couple budget motels, selected one of them (making sure they had free wifi included) and checked in.

So, that's the first day of this trip. I left Keyser, West Virginia planning for this to be a very relaxing travel time and so far, that's what it's been. We have not designated a destination other than to look for sights that would be new and different to us. Today was simply a repeat trip through roads and places we've both been before. Tomorrow presents the opportunity for new adventures. However, my next adventure after posting this is with an inviting bed and a stack of pillows. 

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